Ballard to power first hydrogen trains in U.S., India

By Becky Schultz03 October 2022

Ballard Power Systems will deliver the power behind two major rail industry firsts. The company announced it has received an order from rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail AG for the supply of six 100 kW FCMove HD+ fuel cell engines to power the first hydrogen train in the United States. In addition, it has received a fuel cell module order from Medha Servo Drives, a rail system integrator contracted by Indian Railways to develop India’s first hydrogen-powered trains.

Launched in September 2021, the FCmove HD+ fuel cell engine is designed specifically for heavy-duty mobility applications. Ballard said it provides high-performing power and a wide operating range across a range of climates, temperatures (-30 C to +50 C), geographies and operating conditions. Smaller and more compact than previous versions, the product is easy to integrate and requires low maintenance.

Ballard Power Systems FCMove HD+ fuel cell FCMove HD+ fuel cell engine technology will play a role in powering the first hydrogen trains in both the U.S. and India. (Image: Ballard Power Systems)

Ballard will supply six of the fuel cell engines to Stadler, which was awarded the contract to provide the hydrogen-powered train by San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA), with the option of additional trains in the future. The train is expected to be in service in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2024 and will seat more than 100 passengers.

“Stadler is committed to designing and building green technology for the transportation industry. We are delighted to work alongside innovative organizations, like SBCTA and Ballard, that share our enthusiasm to reduce emissions in the sector,” said Martin Ritter, CEO, Stadler US. “It is a great honor to be a part of bringing the first hydrogen-powered train to the United States.”

Ballard will also help bring the first hydrogen-powered trains to India. As part of the contract awarded to Medha by Indian Railways, two retrofitted diesel-electric commuter trains will integrate eight units of Ballard’s 100 kW FCmove HD+ technology. The fuel cell modules are expected to be shipped in 2023, with trains scheduled to go into service in 2024, with potential for additional retrofits following the initial deployment.

“Rail transportation is a critical piece of infrastructure across India and we are proud to be taking the first steps to decarbonize this facet of our economy. With leading technology and strong project economics, we are optimistic about the future of zero-emission rail transport,” said Mr. Kasyap Reddy, managing director of Medha Servo Drives.

Indian Railways estimates its investment in the hydrogen fuel cell project will have a payback of less than two years based on the lower cost of hydrogen compared to diesel. The conversions are expected to be more economical plus reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by over 11 metric tons and particulate matter by nearly a metric ton per year.

“Our progress in decarbonizing the rail market is just beginning, as we work with leading rolling stock manufacturers, integrators and operators globally. This announcement with Medha exemplifies the growing need and progress being made to decarbonize global mobility,” said David Mucciacciaro, Ballard Chief Commercial Officer. “We are excited to grow our fuel cell business in India, and to power the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission passenger trains in the Indian market.”

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